Friday, 1 July 2011

I'm still sceptical about health professionals and social media...

Here's a short video put together to stimulate discussion about the threats and opportunities that social media provides for doctors (and other health professionals). The case is made that we (health professionals) have a responsibility to engage with social media so that we can guide patients to good resources. But does guiding to good content really necessitate the production of content? Does it need tweeting or blogging or just a good website? Do we really need web 2.0 for what is described in this video or wouldn't web 1.0 get us most of the way?
Would I encourage colleagues to set up a blog or a twitter account or a Facebook page with the aim of generating content for their patients? No. I've been in these spaces for a few years and I still wouldn't try this myself. I admire those practitioners who feel they can negotiate the boundaries of privacy, and openness with patients but I don't feel that I am there yet.
So I look forward to continuing the conversation. I've written more on my thoughts about health professionals and social media here, here, here and here. All of those posts have benefited from very rich comments for which I am very grateful.


  1. I do wonder whether GP practices could make use of some Web 2.0 type tools. For example a practice blog and delicious account with links to websites providing sound health information and advice. You've blogged before about whether the NHS should be on Yahoo Answers. Should GP practices and hospitals be pointing patients to really good information and useful websites. There's plenty of good stuff out there, so no need to reinvent the wheel producing new content. Patients just need a helpful hand to find it.

  2. Thanks Natalie. As I've said before if you know the diagnosis then google will get you good information. If you on;y have symptoms then nothing is that useful... NHS direct is very tedious online.
    The only information it would make sense to curate is local health information and a website is perfectly good for that. Anything that allows comments to be left brings a big burden in health as it must be checked regularly for comments and there is the worry that it will be used inappropriately.
    Hope that helps:)

  3. Hi Anne Marie, I agree but guess I was thinking you could use a blog to deliver that website. It would make maintenance a lot simpler and you can disable commenting.

  4. Perhaps! Most practices have established systems already. I don't know how much effort it takes to maintain them. You know how people feel about change:)
    I admire your push for WP as solution for everything though!
    But at end of day I wouldn't call a blog without comments web 2... would you?

  5. Doesn't have to be WP ;) Blogger would do the job or even easier Posterous and you could just have a feed into your existing site! I think if you're pulling in stuff eg a YouTube video from elsewhere it's still Web 2.0 ... even if there are no comments.

  6. We need a GP who is actually involved in this to comment. The thing is that it isn't a constant update of information that is needed- just good curation of local content. Ideally the health board would become the resource for all staff and public in the area but no signs of that happening yet. Having every practice in a given area doing this is a waste of resource:(
    There is no way that blogger or posterous would be sophisticated enough for what I have in mind.

  7. These commentators make the excellent point for transparency. Transparency fosters trust which is a cornerstone for satisfying care.
    Updating practice websites takes time, therefore it makes good sense to provide hyperlinks which lead patients to sites and institutions which are trustworthy and constantly updated. (NHS has excellent sites). Practices would need specialist social media managers, information managers and knowledge managment personel, maybe it is too soon for this?
    Dallas Knight

  8. Hello Dallas,
    Does transparency foster trust? I'm not talking about this video or healthcare in general, but I'm interested in the basis of your statement.
    Have you read Tsoukas?
    I'm not saying you're not right, I'm just curious about how you came to that statement.


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